When a group of Japanese delegates on a global leadership program were first told about their trip to India,they were fascinated.
Soon after their arrival,the delegates from Hitachi in association with Imagindia,an independent think-tank,were driven through the narrow bylanes of village Rajokri in Delhi to Jeevashram animal shelter and veterinary hospital on Tuesday. The reason: to spend a few hours doing community service.
The delegates were grouped into pairs along with NCC cadets from a nearby school to learn about animal welfare and participate in a cleanliness drive adjacent to the shelter. Silvia Jhakhar,one of the organisers,said,Many animals brought to this shelter have been abandoned,or were injured in accidents. The idea was to make them aware about letting wild animals be the way nature intended them to be.
They were told about Neela,the peacock that damaged its foot while landing on an electric wire,two emu birds who were injured in a medical test,abandoned and finally rescued,the friendly dogs Kaalu and Blue that no one wants to adopt; numerous others who have lost their limbs but have found friends in each other in this shelter. I know about dog shelters in Japan but I have never seen a livestock shelter like this. It has been a great learning experience, Hisako Katayama,a delegate,said.
The delegates,along with school cadets,participated in a cleanliness drive in a traditional baoli (pond) near the shelter. All the garbage is dumped outside the school and across the roads in Rajokri and no one really bothers. We gathered to clean some of these areas, Eliese Steiner,an organiser,said.
Armed with gloves,a bucket and a gunny bag,these delegates spent two hours collecting garbage from the dry pond and placed the bags at civic agencys disposal site. We were coordinating the drive in sign language due to the language barrier. Nevertheless,it was an interesting experience as the idea is to learn new things, Atsshi Jigami said.
To break the cultural barrier and mingle with the locals,the 25 delegates said they had googled various websites to find suitable Indian names for themselves. Ryo became Rohan,Tomohiro chose Mohit,and Imai Koko chose Chandra.
Robinder Sachdev,founder-president of Imagindia,said the idea was to involve the delegates in activities that will help impart community leadership skills.
The villages in Japan are very different from the ones in India. I am quite surprised, Kazutaro Hirose said.